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Old 06-05-2005, 09:28 AM
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The Bowies of the Blade Show 2005 (Show Report)

First of all, let me say that the title is fairly misleading. You will see knives that aren?t bowies in this review - even a couple of folders ? but given that I had less than a full day in total to peruse this almost unimaginably L-A-R-G-E knife show, I had to focus on my primary interest. Hence, you can expect to see many big fixed blades and their makers.

Even with that particular focus in mind, what follows is a mere glimpse of what was a staggering display of some truly outstanding cutlery.

Let?s get few important details on the table first (and if I have butchered any names, please let me know and I will fix it up):

Blade Show Awards

Best in Show - Jack Levin
Best Fixed Blade - Steven Rapp
Best Damascus - Shane Taylor
Best Handmade Art - Donald Vogt
Best Fighter - Joe Flournoy
Best Non-damascus Hand-forged Knife - Mike Williams
Best Miniature - Jerry Van Eizenga
Best Handle Design - Ken Steigerwalt
Best Fantasy Knife - Jack Levin
Best Utility Hunter - Jim Walker
Best Folder - Richard Rogers
Most Innovative Design - Ed Van Hoy
Best Knife Collaboration - Ron Skoggs / Ken Steigerwalt
Best Sword - Vince Evans
Best New Maker - Mike Ruth
Best of the Rest - Phillip Booth


ABS Awards

George Peck Award (Best knife submitted by a Journeyman Smith applicant) ? Tommy Gann

B.R. Hughes Award (Best knife Submitted by a Master Smith applicant) ? John Perry

W.F. Moran Knife of the Year Award ? James Rodebaugh (for an absolutely stunning stag S-guard Southwest bowie).

Antique Bowie Knife Association Awards:

Journeyman Smith ? Billy Bob Sowell

Master Smith ? John Perry

Here is a look at Mr. Sowell?s winning entry ? really stunning, in my view:





New Journeyman Smiths

(I was writing these down as they were called out over near-continuous applause, so I really do apologize if I have messed up a name or two, or six).

Don Bell
Matt Diskin
Sean Ellis
Greg Evans
Tommy Gann
Don Hanson
Bill Lyons
Sean McIntyre
Michal Lally
Joe Olson
Clark Powell
Lin Rhea
Brion Tomberlin
Ricardo Vilar
Steve Woods



I can?t identify all of them for you, but surely you guys can spot Brion ?Too Tall? Tomberlin.



New Master Smiths

John Horrigan
Ray Kirk
Jerry Lairson
John Perry




World Championship Cutting Competition Winner

Reggie Barker

The runner-up was Alaskan bladesmith Adam Desrosier and the other finalists were Fan Winkler, Dan Farr and Dickie Robinson. Congrats Reggie on winning another World Championship against formidable competition. And congratulations to all the finalists who got to where they were by demonstrating consistent performance at competitons held nation-wide throughout the year. You all have my admiration and respect for what you have accomplished.

Show Impressions

For those who wish to bypass incoherent musings, please feel free to scroll down to the pictures which begin just a bit further below.

I had been warned by Jerry Fisk in advance of attending my first Blade Show to make real sure I got some rest before arriving, because I would get little or none there. That advice was well heeded and much needed. The posted show hours tell you nothing more than when the convention doors open and close. The event which is Blade commences from the moment you arrive in Atlanta and continues non-stop until the moment you stagger away.

The show began for me when I got on the airport shuttle bound for the Waverly and was fortuitously joined there by fellow forumnite Peter Gill (PTGDVC). From that point on, the experience was all-knives all the time.

Here is a look at the famous ?Pit? ? all but devoid of humanity at this early point:



I dropped my bags in my room at about 1:30 pm Thursday afternoon and didn?t get around to unpacking until around 1:30am Friday morning. This is what my day before the show opened looked like:

Lunch with Peter Gill, Stephen Foster (Stephen F on the forums) and Ron Newton?back to the Pit? run into a bunch of other forumnites (including that rascal Danbo)? talk knives, see knives? hang out with Brazilian bladesmiths Vilar, Dorneles and Sfreddo? talk knives, see knives?. meet up with Gus Kalansis and about 20-odd other knife nuts including Don Cowles and Steve Freund?.. see knves, talk knives, eat food?back to the Pit?really swinging now? chat with Fisk, Dickie Robinson and Steve Dunn? talk knives, see knives, drink beer, spill beer, hang out with John White? see knives, talk knives?. meet up with Mike Williams for a bit then head over to the Sheraton to hang out with Jason Knight, Adam Des Rosiers, Sean McIntyre and Doug Timbs? see knives, talk knives?back to the Pit?. really smoky now? drink beer, crawl up to room, extract toothbrush (this officially counts as unpacking) use same then collapse on bed.

Overall, Friday afternoon and Saturday morning passed in an all-too rapid blur, but it wa terrific to get re-acquainted with old friends, meet many new ones, put faces to the names of many forum friends, and as an added bonus, see and handle more superb bladeware than I could possibly imagine.

In other words ? about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

Now on to more pics.

Two soldiers of the old guard ? Jerry Fisk and Joe Flournoy (Best Fighter):



Mike Williams (Best Non-damascus Hand-forged Knife). Mike is holding the award-winning knife which Peter Gill took delivery of at the show. It is an outstanding 12? blade bowie. I?m happy for both Peter and Mike, but I have to say that Peter?s self-satisfied smirk was wearing on me a bit toward the end there?



Here is a closer look at some of Mike?s knives:



??. Part 1 of 5

Last edited by RogerP; 06-08-2005 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 06-05-2005, 09:30 AM
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Ron Newton, holding what was, for me, easily among the top five bowies at the show. If you are wondering whether the knife is as big as it looks, the answer is no. It?s bigger. 14? plus of wicked Southwest bowie with a killer India stag handle. When Ron told me the knife was but half-finished I nearly laughed out loud. The thing is perfect. Then he told me the plans for embellishment of the knife and yet-to-be-built scabbard. I stand corrected, and will be tuning in for the unfolding of that story.



This is John White holding one of the sweetest little hunters at the show, rendered in chocolate mammoth ivory and silicon bronze. It was a pleasure meeting John and his most charming wife. And I am here to tell you that you can believed all the hype about this maker ? his work is beautiful and super-clean.






Brion Tomberlin and Lin Rhea ( Newly minted Journeyman Smiths)

Brion:



JS test knives (man, you should see the hamon on that one on the far right ? smokin?!:



Lin:



JS test knives.



?. Part 2 of 5
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Old 06-05-2005, 09:31 AM
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Ed Caffrey

It was terrific to finally meet Ed and get to handle and admire a mind-blowing array of hunters, bowies and folders. The knife Ed is holding here was one of the more beautiful and memorable bowies of the show:





I have to confess that there was one knife on Ed?s table that kept drawing me back, over and over again, to hold it and stare at in an unblinking trance. And it wasn?t a bowie, but this terrific blue folder here on the bottom left:




Jim Walker Best Hunter

This makes two years in a row that Jim?s lovely wife Anne has avoided my camera. Last year at Spirit of Steel it was pure happenstance. This year, it was pure deviousness ? she made it a condition of Jim parting with this sweet amber stag hunter that he?s holding that I not point my camera in her direction. Next time Anne, next time?





Here is a very poor photo of what was a terrific and ultimately award-winning hunter from Jim, who has obviously tapped into a magic amber stag supply:



And now for something completely different.

Okay ? let?s say that Steve Freund (Tomway Knife Cases) is going up against Bailey Bradshaw in a sword fight. Smart money?s on Bailey right? After all, he builds immaculate Japanese swords and trains with them tirelessly.

What?s more, Steve will be denied his one true advantage ? the chance to blind Bailey with the glare from his shiny pate ? we?ll force him to wear a hat.

Not looking good for Steve is it?

Well, how about we even things up by arming Steve not with a katana, but with a Jedi light saber!



NOW we have us a contest.

Okay, goofing around is officially over.

??..Part 3 of 5
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Old 06-05-2005, 09:33 AM
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It was my first opportunity to see some of Bailey?s highly touted swords in person and I was most impressed. The exquisite details could keep me occupied for hours on end, but it was the feel of these big blades in the hand that stays with me the most. Power. Balance. Speed. Made me wish I knew how to use one.

This is Bailey?s lovely wife Courtenay minding the table while Bailey duels with Steve:



And a closer shot of the bladeware. Bailey?s folders were among my very favorites of the show:




Here we have Reggie Barker holding the blade he would use to win the World Championship Cutting Competition. It?s not often that you get to see Reggie holding this knife and smiling at the same time ? his game face in something fierce:



A closer look at some of the knives with his competition cutter in the middle:



Who knew that the secret to cutting competition success lay in wearing a pink thong?um.. er.. I mean? lanyard. Yeah that?s it.

Next up is Adam DesRosier, holding two of his competition cutters ? one in damscus, one in carbon steel. He used the damscus blade to win an earlier cutting competition, but I believe he intended to use the carbon one at Blade. Adam turns out some really terrific and really scary-sharp knives:




Here we have Dan Farr in the company of some guy who wouldn?t get the hell out of the picture (translation, yours truly).



Dan is holding a super sweet camp knife that went to a fellow forum member, and I am holding a competition cutter that was to be Dan?s backup blade for the World Championship. I cannot tell you how good that knife felt in the hand.

This was my first opportunity to see a broad range of the work of Jason Knight. Okay, now I understand. This guys builds a fantastic knife. A whole bunch of them, actually.



I sure wish this picture came out better ? the knives were awesome:



Mike Ruth ( Best New Maker )

It wasn?t long ago that Fisk pointed to Mike Ruth as one to watch. Fisk knows of what he speaks. Mike?s knives were really well turned out, including this blackwood bowie that was delivered to a fellow forum member. He also had a pair of awesome stag and damscus bowies that I wished I had funds left for.



?.. Part 4 of 5
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Old 06-05-2005, 09:33 AM
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Roger Massey is a superb bladesmith and a just a super guy. That stag and damscus bowie had one of the tightest ladder patterns I have ever seen.





You really have to see one of J.W. Randall?s mosaic damscus pieces up close to appreciate it. The minute details that he is able to craft in steel are a joy to behold. Here is J.W. with his delightful wife Tammy in the background:



The ?Honey Bee? folder shown below was another show favorite of mine:



Sean McIntyre Newly Minted Journeyman Smith

Sean had me crying over my empty pockets with his excellent selection of bowies.



The top knife in this photo in particular broke my heart ? lots of lovely smoky whispy tendrils flowing from the hamon. You can?t see them in the pic, but they?re there. Trust me.




Of course, all the tempting bladeware was not on the tables of makers. Custom knife dealers Les Robertson and Bob Neal had a truly drool-worthy selection of blades on their tables.



And finally, my partners in crime ? two rabid, um, I mean, avid knife enthusiasts Peter Gill (far left) and Stephen Foster (far right), flanking Steve Dunn. Steve is holding a truly gorgeous engraved stag bowie that now belongs to a VERY happy Stephen Foster:

.

Thanks for looking, hope you enjoyed the review.

Roger Pinnock


? Part 5 of 5

Last edited by RogerP; 06-05-2005 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 06-06-2005, 09:56 AM
Glocknut Glocknut is offline
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I also held Dan Farrs camp knife and his cutting competition knife and they felt EXCELLENT and he is a super nice guy. I guess I'm a little prejudiced because he is a friend of mine but, Bill Sowell of Iron Horse forge won the Antique Bowie award by a journeyman smith for a reproduction Dogbone bowie made in 1832. It was a beautiful knife and very lightweight. This was his third year in a row winning that award. Overall, it was a great show and I was able to meet alot of great makers who took the time to answer any question I had as a novice maker. I CAN'T WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR!!!!!
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Old 06-06-2005, 01:16 PM
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Super review Roger. Great job.


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Old 06-06-2005, 03:40 PM
Billy Bob Billy Bob is offline
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I kinda liked the Antique Bowie repoductions too..Congrats to John Perry!
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Old 06-06-2005, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Bob
I kinda liked the Antique Bowie repoductions too..Congrats to John Perry!
I sure wish I had got around to seeing those - congrats to you too Billy Bob! If you have a pic of your winning entry please post it, or else e-mail it to me and I'll post it.

Roger
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Old 06-06-2005, 06:08 PM
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medit8 medit8 is offline
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Yo Roger,
Thanks for the excellent reporting and photo's. It really gave a feeling for what this event felt and looked like. Good job and much appreciated.
Bob
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Old 06-07-2005, 12:40 PM
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Hey Roger... got any news from the Brazilian guys?

And ... any pictures?


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Old 06-07-2005, 03:07 PM
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Hey Jeff,

I had the pleasure of meeting Ricardo Vilar, Luciano Dorneles and Rodrigo Sfreddo on Thursday night in "the Pit".

As noted above, Ricardo was successful in his application for the ABS Journeyman Smith rank.

On Friday morning I purchased from Rodrigo one of my absolute favorite knives of the show - an 11" bladed Scheffield clip bowie, coffin frame-handled in stag with a truly excellent sheath. I showed that knife to about 6 or 8 Master Smiths, whose responses ranged from very favorably impressed to "you gotta be kidding me!". I had my knife-buddy Danbo look it over before I bought it and told him to pick it apart. He is one picky sonofagun when it comes to critiquing knives. He pronounced it flawless - which was my opinion as well, but with show-fever settling in I wanted an objective second opinion.

Danbo also picked up a stag integral Gaucho knife from Rodrigo as well as a smaller utility integral from Ricardo (one of his JS test knives).

I tried to get a picture of the guys on Saturday morning, but couldn't find them and my time was short.

I'll post up pics of the Sfreddo bowie once it is back in my hands (it's being shipped up with my other show knives).

Roger
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Old 06-07-2005, 04:48 PM
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Thumbs up Whatta report!

Top-shelf reporting and journalism, Roger. Edges and faces make me smile.

I *really* want to see YOUR stash once you settle in. Wow.

I talked to John Parks, and he not only sold out but took orders. Anyone know of his work there?

Thanks again.

Coop


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Old 06-07-2005, 06:30 PM
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Hey Man, thanks for the news, I am glad you got to know the boys personaly.

And great to know some of the big aces have our work in high opinion. Rodrigo is a gifted man and I am sure you wil have long hours of joy with that knife in your collection.

Dambo will also be happy with his choices, Ricardo has been really working hard to earn his JS stamp and Luciano has what I call "the true knifemakers soul" if you could only talk to him and learn his adventures. His english is not that good yet, but he surely got some history to tell.

Congratulations and as Coop said, let us see your stash once you have setled.

Thanks a bunch!


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Old 06-07-2005, 06:32 PM
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Coop, I am not familiar, but if you care to show me some, I would love to learn more.


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